Trail Chef Recipe: Mini Chocolate Cakes...

...Baked in a soda can!

I’m celebrating a friend’s birthday on the trail this weekend, and I have dilemma: I want to bake him a cake, but I don’t want to bring a backcountry oven. I also don’t want a lot of messy clean-up. The solution: a soda-pop oven. Here are the ingredients and steps:

1 aluminum soda can (tuna cans also work) 

1 cup chocolate cake mix (or whatever your favorite flavor is)

Powdered eggs


At home

1. Cut off the bottom of an aluminum can (about two inches from the base). You’ll now have a mini-tin two inches deep. File off the burrs until the edge is smooth. No cutting or filing required for tuna cans; just make sure they're clean and don't taste fishy.

2. Put the cake mix in a zip-top bag. If the mix instructions call for eggs, put the equivalent amount of powdered eggs in the same bag (1 egg usually equals 1 to 2 tablespoons powdered egg). Easier option: Forego the eggs and oil and, in camp, add soda directly into the mix (use one can for a full box of mix). You can also experiment with adding raisins, chocolate chips, and chopped walnuts to the mix.

In camp

1. Grease the mini-tin with butter or oil.

2. Add the appropriate amount of water and oil (according to instructions) to the zip-top bag and stir. (With many mixes, you can swap in applesauce for the oil.) Spoon about ½ cup into the tin.

3. You have two baking options: a fire or your stove. For a fire, either place the tin on a grill rack (the flames shouldn't touch the tin) or cover the whole tin in foil and place it amongst coils. For the stove method, place several small rocks of similar size in a triangle on the bottom of the pot. Set the tin atop the pebbles. Cover the pot, and place it on a stove at medium heat for about 10 minutes; add a little water to the pot, so the bottom doesn't burn. The stove is the right heat if water droplets sprinkled on the lid hiss for a few seconds. The mini-cakes are done when a toothpick or twig comes out clean.

5. Frost and enjoy!